Vail to use reservation system for 2020-21 season
ASPEN SKIING CO. UPDATE
The Aspen Skiing Co. sent the following statement when asked Thursday when they will have an update on their pass options and plans for this winter:
“We are working through options to achieve the highest level of safety and experience for all our passholders, community members, and guests. We aim to announce our pass, product and operational plans in the coming weeks. Vail Resorts put together a thoughtful plan that they feel works best for their resorts and communities. We are customizing our approach to the unique conditions of our four-mountain, destination experience. Our highest priority is the safety of our Aspen Snowmass community and guests.”
Vail and Beaver Creek will implement a reservation system to access the mountain during the 2020-21 season, Vail Resorts announced Thursday.
Passholders can reserve up to seven days in advance on their passes — called Priority Day Reservations — and as many week-of reservations as their pass product allows.
Epic Pass holders can reserve seven Priority Day Reservations and as many week-of reservations (up to seven) as they want; the Priority Reservations do not count against Week-of reservations. The booking window for Priority Reservation Days will open Nov. 6 and will be exclusive to pass holders until Dec. 7.
When one day is scanned, another will become available. Those looking to ski 100 days on the season will need to get in the habit of reserving a new day every day, but those with goals to have a big, 100-day-or-more ski season should be able to do so, say resort officials.
“It is possible that at some point in the season, as we evaluate the dynamics of our operations, we may decide that we no longer need the reservation system at certain resorts,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz wrote in a letter published Thursday. “However, with so many uncertainties, we believe it is only prudent to have this system in place now.”
Most days not expected to fill
For the majority of 2020-21 ski days, Vail believes the resort will be able to accommodate every guest. But on days where a large numbers of people decide to make the trip to Vail that morning (powder days), there could be a benefit to the guest experience (less crowds) for those with reservations.
“For the vast majority of days during the season, we believe everyone who wants to get on our mountains will be able to,” Katz said. “However, we are not planning for the majority of days, we are planning for every day of the season. We want to provide assurance to our guests that we will do our very best to minimize crowds at all times — be it a holiday weekend or the unpredictable powder day. We believe this approach will help ensure a safe experience for everyone, while prioritizing access for our passholders.”
Vail did not release details on capacity limits at its resorts, with a company spokesperson saying the calculation requires an examination of how much terrain is open and how many lifts are running, which is yet to be determined.
“As always our goal is to open all terrain and all lifts as quickly as conditions permit,” the company wrote in a statement.
Same day ‘subject to availability’
Walk-up tickets will no longer be available for purchase at the window, but day-of guests can purchase tickets from call centers or mobile devices and pick up their day-use tickets at the window.
“We will be encouraging guests to purchase in advance — though guests can purchase a same-day lift ticket online or through our call centers, subject to availability, and then pick up the lift ticket at the ticket window,” Katz said.
The resort will ask guests to cancel their reservation by midnight the night prior if they can’t make it.
“We certainly understand that life events happen, and don’t want people to arrive to the mountain feeling sick,” said senior communications manager John Plack.
“We’ll share additional details around cancellation policies prior to the start of the season, but right now we’re asking passholders who no longer plan to use their reservation that they cancel by 12 midnight the day prior,” Plack said.
Plack said skiers and snowboarders who have a reservation will have their pass or ticket turned on all day, even if they are an afternoon skier or rider.
Merchant Pass, uphill access details coming
Vail will offer the Merchant Pass again this season, Plack confirmed. The Merchant Pass allows Vail Chamber and Merchant Association and Vail Valley Partnership member businesses to purchase passes for employees. A Merchant Pass can be transferred or cancelled if the employee leaves the business.
Merchant Pass holders will also be required to participate in the reservation system to access the mountain. The full details of the Merchant Pass program will be released in the coming months.
Vail will also issue details on uphill access in the coming months, Plack said, following conversations with the U.S. Forest Service regarding safe access.
Guests will be required to wear face coverings to get on the mountain and in all parts of resort operations, including in lift lines and riding in lifts and gondolas.
To maintain physical distancing on chairlifts and gondolas, Vail will only be seating related parties (guests skiing or riding together) or two singles on opposite sides of a four-person lift, two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift, or two singles on opposite sides of the larger gondola cabins.
Ski and ride school will be offered and on-mountain dining will be open, but with changes to help keep guests safe.
While new restaurants enter the Aspen scene, there are several spaces that will remain empty this winter. Meanwhile, the retail market remains extremely hot.